Team Associated’s Brent Thielke is on hand here at the round 2 of the JConcepts INS. Check out the interview with Jason Ruona and Brent Thielke below and get an inside scoop on what’s happening with AE!
In the pits with Team Associated’s Brent Thielke
Jason Ruona: Brent, Team Associated had some major changes this year in terms of driver acquisitions. Tell us how the new drivers are working out for the team. What has been your biggest surprise thus far?
Brent Thielke: Thanks for the interview Jason. For the purpose of this interview, I’ll focus on the off-road team. I’m really excited about where our team is right now. We’ve added some establish young global talent with Carson Wernimont and Kyle McBride. Both bring world-level programs and driving talent that fit in well with our team and staff. Additionally, we have drivers that continue to grow within the team and are starting to break out beyond their local events to gain that much needed “big race” experience. Adding these drivers to our established group of veterans like Cragg, Cavalieri, Hartson and others, we have a good mix of talent, experience and youthful exuberance.
As far as a surprise so far, I’d say it was Kyle McBride’s pace at the Reedy Race. To show up at that race with new cars and compete at the level he did, even though it was in the open classes, was impressive. I knew he’d do well, but a TQ and win in 4wd only enhanced our excitement of having him as part of the team. He’ll be in the Invitational class next year and I expect he’ll be competitive there as well.
JR: In 2014 and 2015 we have seen a lot of releases from Team Associated. Has the success of the B5M surprised you? Will the T5M revive the stadium truck class?
BT: The B5(M) platform was the best project I’ve ever been involved with in my 10 years at Team Associated. We did our market research, conducted extensive testing and the results show. Each race I attend, customers are choosing to race the B5 platform and to me that’s the most important thing.
The T5M is based on what we learned in the year of racing the B5M. During that time we were able to narrow down some things we wanted to test and racers will notice a few new options on the T5M that weren’t on the T4 platform; most noticeably the flat front arms, 3rd hole on the inside on the rear arm and a significant increase in durability. I think all of this combined with the popularity of the 2wd class only fuels the revival of the “Racing Truck” class. And with so many cross compatible parts with the B5M, racers can easily maintain their vehicles along with getting a very similar driving feel to their beloved B5M.
JR: Recently Ryan Cavalieri won the Neobuggy race with the RC8 prototype. It’s been a long road back to a victory like this for the team. How much weight does this victory carry and now how do you rate the 1/8th side of the racing program?
BT: Neobuggy was a great race for Ryan and Team Associated. All three of our drivers (Cavalieri, Cragg & McBride) were very competitive and in the main event, so as a company it was a great showing for our prototype car. With Cavalieri’s string of second places at the IFMAR Worlds, Nitro Challenge and Silver State the vehicle has proven its pace. With Spencer Rivkin and Tanner Denney getting limited testing leading up to the Dirt Nitro Challenge, they were very competitive. McBride was able to win the Australian Nationals, Wernimont won the first round of the JBRL and Cragg has had great pace in the BRCA series. However, for Cavalieri to finally get on the top step was a great achievement by for him as that race is known as the “indoor worlds” by some.
As far as the program as a whole, we’ve learned a lot; a whole lot. From the engineering staff that’s involved to the feedback from our top drivers, we’ve worked together well to develop a car that should be well received by the public and our team. The addition of Carson Wernimont at the end of our development process was significant. His knowledge and testing was immediately implemented into our program and I’m excited to have him as part of our team going forward.
JR: So, now that we have seen the production and press release on the RC8B3, when do you expect them to ship?
BT: The press release said July 2015, so that’s what I’ve been going off of.
JR: As we ease into the mid-point of the year, what are the goals for you and your team?
BT: There are many goals. As always, to continue to support our products at the events and give our customers a good experience. Obviously getting the RC8B3 to market will require a lot of support to and from our team and we are looking forward to that. I’ve had a lot of communication with them and the vibe is that 1:8 is ready for an upswing and I think our car can be a part of that.
On the electric off-road side we will be exploring and developing our astro/carpet vehicles in preparation for the IFMAR Off-Road World Championships later this year at Yatabe Arena in Japan.
JR: Will Team Associated be racing at the Worlds Warmup at Yatabe Arena in Japan? How do you like your chances at the warmups and then later in the year at the World Championships?
BT: Yes we will be attending the warm-up event. It’s always challenging to enter a type of racing that isn’t as common for us at the shop. But with the experience from our team drivers, Engineers and executives I’m confident we can compete.
JR: Thanks for your time and good luck this weekend.
BT: Thanks Jason and thank you for putting on a great series that Team Associated and Reedy are proud to be a part of. It’s a great way to see the country while socializing with new racers and tracks. If anyone reading this is looking for a new event to attend, get one of these racers on your schedule and definitely attend if the series is within driving distance. See ya in Chico!